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The ‘80s Surf Ads That Inspired Our New Heritage Clothing Range

Posted by Wavelength Media on
The ‘80s Surf Ads That Inspired Our New Heritage Clothing Range

Few cultural artefacts possess the nostalgic charm of the '80s surf mag ad. 

Our early issues are full of them, featuring the era's top surfers looking fresh-faced, contorted into awkward poses and resplendent in the gaudy fashions of the day. As 2021 marks our 40th year in print, we’ve been spending more time than usual flicking through and observing many fine examples in their natural habitat. 

Alongside brands both iconic and long-defunct, we found many peddling our own array of bright and garish leisurewear and a few months back we decided to share some of our favourites on Insta.

No sooner had we hit publish than a reader named Immie Evans got in touch to say “That’s my dad Simon!” who, it turned out, was also the designer behind many of the clothes and still had the original artwork on slides in an old folder somewhere. 

After a bit of dutiful digging on Immie’s part, we got them in the scanner and set about recreating the gear. The result was the Wavelength Heritage Capsule; a range of tees, crews and tracksuits which pair the original artwork with high-quality modern fabrics to create a nostalgic collection as comfortable as it is becoming. 

Here, we thought we’d share some of that original ad inspiration, lifted from various issues of Wavelength published throughout the ‘80s. 

 A classic Billabong Occy ad from '87 captured during his last year on tour before a series of personal issues put him out of full time competition for the following decade. 


 In ‘85, to promote the release of a new range of WL clothing, magazine founder John Conway shaped a series of six boards with the WL masthead glassed into the deck, which were then given away as prizes. We’ve no idea where they’ve ended up, but according to John (responding to a letter, via the then editor in issue 87) he only spent about 20 minutes on each of them so reckoned they were probably a little lumpy.


Founded in '79 by World Champ Shaun Tomson, the Instinct team featured some of the world's biggest names throughout the '80s, including  Tom Carroll and Barton Lynch. 

 These were two of our favourite graphics from the original WL Leisurewear range, with the left now featuring on the chest of the new World Surfer Heritage Hoody and the right appearing as a back print on both the Retro Surfer short sleeve tee and the long sleeve Retro Surfer in golden sun yellow.


A 'Boys of Summer' fashion ad, shot by editor John Conway, featuring the Owens twins, a t-shirt from the wildly successful Newquay Bilbo shop and a pair of 'Mystic Nights Of Bali' boardies. 

Here’s Simon Evans, posing next to the aforementioned boards in a fresh pair of Oakleys – the most iconic eyewear of the era – and now, in a nice bit of historical symmetry, the proud presenting partners of our Heritage Range relaunch. 


A trio of classic ads from three of the most prominent homegrown British surf brands of the day, wetsuits specialists Gul & Alder and board builders Ocean Magic; all still very much in business 40 years on. 

Simon again, captured in ‘87 this time sporting the full tracksuit with bright flouro branding, revived and available to buy right here. 


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Shop the whole collection here.

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